Beers, Biblioteks & Beetroots
So, beer… What do I know about beer really? Actually not a lot!
I do know that Lithuanians are creative folks and like to make weird things like carrot coffee and beetroot beer! But, we will come back to that in a minute.
First a little something about beer…
According to the sources I just checked, beer is the third most popular drink in the world! Can you believe it, tucked into the list just after water and tea? I’m surprised, I would think that maybe coffee and wine would beat it, maybe I am wrong or maybe it just depends on who created the statistics and what they wanted them to show.
One that is a definite fact is that it is one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in the world, which in a way makes sense because it is very simple to make. According to historical documents beer was already drunk in Persia in the 5th century BC and was also recorded in the written histories of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Thank you ancient ages – this is a great heritage!
Maybe I sound a bit funny but actually apart from being something nice to drink, beer has been important in the development of different technologies too, probably you already think about the process of fermentation, but that is just a start. Beer is incredibly useful for many things, apart from the obvious social forgetting the day at work. Some people are using upcycled beer bottles as bricks for sustainable building, some drink it for digestive purpose, some wash their hair with it. You can find beer baths, it has historically been used as a currency and in ancient Egypt it was much safer to drink beer then the polluted water from the Nile ( actually this probably goes for lots of civilisations and their water sources).
But, of course, everything moves on and nowadays there are lots of new technologies with smaller (and larger) breweries giving us a crazy amount of new beer ingredients and flavours (would you ever think about creating banana bread beer or pizza beer – I wouldn’t).
Which brings us to beetroot beer – which has an incredible earthy, natural, soft, sweetish-sourish and pleasant flavour. Maybe there are many beetroot beers in the world but the one I am talking about is Sakiškių Sour Beetroot Ale. I am not currently living in Lithuania, even if I was then I probably wouldn’t often go out for a beer, but recently when I was being a kind of tour guide then I had the chance again to visit Alaus Biblioteka (Beer Library), a great bar in Vilnius. It was there that I discovered this sour beetroot ale. It’s a local beer, created by a microbrewery born out of a home brewing idea in Vilnius. Just a simple idea – a handmade modern beer, brewed in a hand built brewery, doesn’t it sound nice! The idea united the founder, his father and some friends to come up with a great treasure! Alaus Biblioteka is always worth a visit, but to taste some of the beers from the Sakiškiai brewery then you don’t even need to travel to Lithuania Some of their beers you don’t need to go to Lithuania, you can find them in other parts of Europe too. Check out their website to see where, find more information about the brewery and who knows maybe to visit them one day!
If even a microbrewery is too big for your tastes, then of course we can make beer by ourselves also. The most basic method just needs some barley (or other grain), water, hops and yeast! How I know? Because my granny used to brew it at home and paid some workers with it (at that time it was legal just in case letting you know 😀 ). The process is quite simple, you just need to extract sugars from grains and that gives a chance for yeast to convert it to alcohol and CO2 – and the result is beer.
Homebrew is fine, but it’s probably never going to be any kind of amazing quality. Now it seems like every city is full of microbreweries and fancy craft beers, and I can understand why. Big multinational breweries make boring beers, while ‘craft’ breweries are more personal, innovative, more free and like experimenting with ingredients. They go more for the quality and for unique taste not just brewing quantity, they really can offer you something you never tasted before and not just the same generic flavours.
The point is that these breweries exist because people have a passion, they are full of ideas and creativity, they only produce small amounts of beer and they independently owned. If they succeed too much then often that might all change. Of course we wish them every success, but really do we ever want that change to come?